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Walls of the Vortex

Thanks again to everyone who's contributed advice on the Vortex.  After
having spent a couple of evenings putzing with the programs in a clinical
headphone environment, and about five hour's worth of live ensemble
playing this afternoon with the Vortex in a stereo guitar rig, I can
safely say that this is one of the *wierdest* boxes I've ever run across. 

It's almost like the bastard child of an Eventide Ultra-Harmonizer and a
Delta-Lab Effectron II.  There's a certain analogish funkiness to the
sound and its responsiveness remeniscent of the latter (at certain
settings you can even hear the pitch-mods hissing in the absence of a
singal), while the morphing options and delays place it in a more modern
context.  Very odd.  No wonder Guitar Center has to practically give them

I must say that the presets don't even hint at the possibilities of the
unit.  Using the presets as a jumping-off point, I was able to come up
with some extremely bizarre (and highly effective) patches that elicited
no shortage of raised eyebrows from the other musicians I tested it with
today; the factory presets may be designed for subtle studio orientation,
but there are some obscenely blatant and eye-popping possibilities for 
live performance, particularly in a stereo rig with wide separation. 

One thing that surprised me was the way you can *play* the box in a very 
musical way.  I spent much time in rehearsal today setting up a loop and 
then tweaking the Vortex for a minute or two.  Some of the tones that 
came out of the amp were not only hair-raising, but more importantly, 
they were dynamic and animated -- they made the loops sound less like 
loops and more like a constantly evolving texture.  I may be something 
of an anomaly among loopists in that I tend to like loops that don't just 
replay the exact sound over and over, but which constantly mutate in 
unpredictable ways.  I've been wanting a processor that would do that for 
a while now, and the Vortex fits the bill perfectly.

One other thing that I was taken aback by is how "familiar" some of the
sounds in there are.  Feeding one ambient loop through a chorus-and-delay
patch, I suddenly found myself thinking, "God, this sounds *exactly* like
_A Blessing Of Tears_!"  Other patches bore a strong resemblance to
_Polytown_-era Torn.  This (along with other considerations) has raised
some odd philosophical issues for me, but that's another post altogether. 

At the current Guitar Center rate of $150, it's an absolute steal -- for 
about what you'd pay for an average stompbox you get an utterly bizarre 
thing that seems pathologically incapable of functioning in any 
predictable way.  (And yes, Olivier, I'll send you the phone number and 
address for Guitar Center very soon.)

I think that's enough gushing for now.  Needless to say, I'ma gonna keep 
that box...

Loop on,